I’ve seen a few clips here and there from Catalina, but never anything this comprehensive. This collection of 22 minutes from the 1957 running of the 100-mile Catalina Grand Prix motorcycle race is absolutely fantastic. The chaos of that start is crazy. That everyone seems to just get up and start their bikes back up and continues is even crazier.
I spent last evening at the cinema watching Gravity. I was particularly struck by several scenes shot from the main character’s point of view inside her helmet with her breath fogging the faceshield and the noise of each exhale filling the auditorium. The experience felt so claustrophobic and close. It reminded me of what it must have felt like for Romolo Ferri ducking into the lid of his bright red Lambretta Record and settling in for his record-setting run on a stretch of road between Munich and Ingolsdadt.
Look at this little thing. Like the Munro Special or a bellytank hot rod, the aerodynamic bodywork of surrounding this anything-but-stock Lambretta motorscooter must have felt so tight… and hot. It’s easy to see why the scooter was called “The Red Bullet”.
Sure, Romolo was competing against Vespa, but as any salt flat driver will tell you, the real competition was himself, his previous record, the engineering limits of the 2-stroke engine underneath him.
So how did he do? 201 kph. 124.8 mph. In a 1951 Lambretta. Wow.
More on Romolo Ferri and his record-setting Lammy at Italian Ways. Thanks for sending this one in, Karp.
I find that I tend to be of two minds on automotive art. I tend to be most drawn to either those pieces of work that come from one of two very different points of view. I love work that evokes the motion of a machine: Blurred splashes of color that are barely recognizable silhouettes of specific racing machines but with an emphasis on the frenetic movement of a high speed machine caught in a barely focused instant. But with almost equal reverence I can appreciate a meticulously detailed piece of work like these. It’s hard not to appreciate the careful study of the minutia of a racing machine. Kenji Shibata’s work is breathtakingly precise. It wasn’t until I saw this photo of his work in process that I realized I wasn’t seeing a beautifully lit studio photograph.
In a lot of ways, it’s a lot like how we all appreciate the two essences of motorsport: The high paced courage and emotion on the track itself versus the slow, careful detail work of the long hours spent in the workshop in preparation for the track. I’m sure that’s why I am so drawn to these two apparently opposing aesthetics: because together they represent the full experience of motorsport.
Last month Southsiders MC‘s Vincent Prat made the short trip up the road to Europe’s second best known banked track for the Vintage Revival Montlhéry. Ok, maybe third best known. Fourth? Whatever. Lucky for us, The Southsiders crew has a fantastic photographic eye for capturing the atmosphere of the event. I’m so glad to see that the vintage spirit that surrounds the Goodwood Revival is spreading to other vintage events with period dress and accessories sharing the stage with the vintage machinery. The shots of the 1932 Graham 8 Lucenti Indy car wouldn’t have half the appeal were the pilot clad in just another contemporary race suit.
It looks like a remarkable assemblage of machines were on-hand for the weekend, including machines that traveled from the Brooklands and Hockenheim museums—some returning to Montlhéry for the first time since they were actively racing pre-1940. Wonderful! You aren’t likely to see a better collection of Bugattis on any grid in the world. Looks like another to add to the ever-expanding list of events to attend in the future.
Click on through for Vincent’s recap and the rest of his fantastic photos from the event.
Man. Getting more high-definition cameras in more hands has sure given us more beautiful looks at vintage racing in every flavor. If only spectators that were attending these TT races 30 and 40 years ago had such imagery to leave us.
Ok so this isn’t technically a board track, but the high banked curves makes me think the race technique was similar. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be the monkey in this early sidecar racing.
I’ve watched this Giorgio Oppici tribute to BMW several times, and each time I pause and silently digest what a glorious set of images I’ve taken in… And then I pick up my jaw and watch it again.
The advent of affordable high definition video cameras and dSLRs has been a boon to the world of web video. I’m not about to claim that it’s just the quality of the gear that makes it possible—Oppicci would have doubtless been an astoundingly good cinematographer with nothing but a pinhole camera; but putting affordable high-quality gear in the hands of more filmmakers lets them better realize their vision and push the outer edges of the craft’s potential.
The Bubble Visor blog has done a marvelous dive into the Dutch National Archives for a series of posts on The Netherland’s relationship with the motorcycle. Naturally, I was most interested in the racing photography, but they dig much deeper into imagery of motorcycle police, recreational riders—the complete gamut. I’ve picked a few favorites here but click on through to eachandeverypost for the complete curation.
I've been searching high and low for the artist of this piece. Anyone know who did it?
Motor racing of every flavor has a rich tradition of inspiring artists but there seems to be something in particular about cycle racing that leads artists towards beautiful narratives.
Perhaps it’s simply because a motorcyclist’s body is exposed: Think of a cycle racer aggressively leaning into a turn, shoulders set, head leading the body, the tension between action and balance. It immediately evokes a mood, an attitude; the form just lends itself to storytelling. Even if we’re not trying to tell a story, the orientation conjures one in our minds.
Automotive artists may feel compelled to exaggerate the driving position of the pilot to help convey that mood. But with the cycle racer, the motorcyclist is so much a part of the form of the racing machine that the artist can naturally, or even unintentionally, combine them.
Either way, there’s so much absolute brilliance in these comic-like ligne claire illustrations that it both makes me want to hit the track and pick up the brush.